Notes from a parish cat and his author Julie Mackenzie

My photo
I am Father Tom Fish, esteemed member of the religious team at Temptation of Christ Parish in the novels by author Julie Mackenzie. As to my background, I was invited into the rectory as a stray, laid on the charm, and was invited to stay, even honorarily ordained and no less spiritual than my sidekick Father Will. He dotes on me to high heaven and forgives all of my street cat proclivities, whatever the hell that means.

Friday, March 26, 2010

History Repeats Itself

Oh, prithee find
                               A joyous bauble
                     To mend the cleavage
                                          Of a buzzard's eye.
                 --Cordelia Hawkes, 1778

The housekeeper has a bad habit of going to every garage sale that comes down the pike. It's not the sales themselves, of course, it's all of the must-haves that she grabs.

Just this morning, Father Will was trying to get his coat out of the hall closet only to be accosted by an avalanche of junk. If it's something we must have, then why don't we "must use?" Not "must stash" or "must hide," never to be seen again until its presence is triggered by some apocalyptic movement like the opening of a door.

My suggestion would be for the parish to hold its own garage sale. First, it would keep the housekeeper in the bunkhouse. Secondly, it would be better for the rest of us. It's no fun to witness the settling in of more stuff after a certain someone went all around, nosing out tchochkes over a weekend and arriving at the rectory Monday morning all laden down.

It would be a God-send to have it here. Not only would Mary Lou's assortment be front and center, but other people with packrat inclinations could release their belongings into the wild. Of course, there's always the danger of buying each other's junk and leaving with as much stuff as contributed. I'll have to find a way to suggest that all junk be kept out.

Jack paid me a compliment yesterday. He and some of the church men were playing poker in the conference room. He called me his "ace."

What a card.
                                          Church Cat at Temptation Parish

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Through A Lens Darkly

My mea culpa this week has to do with my posterior. I sat on Will's glasses. It was purely by accident and he said, "Now, that's a little unappetizing." I got up, all apologetically and gave him my most innocent look...

Speaking of hindquarters, did you know that Abraham Lincoln had something to say about them? It was regarding one of his generals. Jack was once a high school history teacher and he's always coming up with stories. Anyway, during one of our famous fireside conversations in the rectory den, he shared this: During the War Between the States, generals always had their headquarters out in the field under a tent. Jack said when Lincoln was told that a particular general believed that his headquarters was in the saddle, Lincoln replied, "So, his headquarters are where his hindquarters should be." He had a great sense of humor, he did.

A Vinny update: Remember last time when I told you about the Evans' cat going over to Vinny's? Well, that one-eared hellpuss went over there alright. I heard they had a Mexican standoff and Vinny turned and ran. I guess he wasn't taking any chances.

Today is the first day of spring. Happy spring, everybody!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Winged Revenge

Vinny Blackwhisker and our church cat have been at odds for a long time. According to Tom, he's ugly and has a reputation to match.

Hello, Friends--

My Lenten Mea Culpa of the Week: I plotted against someone possibly causing them harm. How could I do such a thing? With a little help from my friends...

You see, cats like all winged creatures. Not only am I crazy about birds, but I also like nuns whose habits flutter like wings, angels, and gargoyles that look like they're about to spit fire and fly at the same time. My favorite angels are cherubs. You know, the chubby ones with little wings and no clothes. But, they make trouble. I've seen them. They also talk to me. Recently, one stopped by the windowsill.

"What's a nice cat like you doing in a place like this?" he asked.

It's frightening because these little guys have older voices, articulate and un-baby-like.

"Not a whole lot," I replied. "Been busy lately?"

"Oh, yeah." He couldn't wait to tell me. His little body quivering with excitement as he folded his wings and got comfortable.

"I've been up the street at a parishioner's house."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah. You know the one next door to the rest home where the old men sit on the porch in the summertime and swat flies," he added.

"I know the one," I said.

"Well, I did a naughty thing."

"No!" I tried to express the appropriate shock. "What did you do?"

"I let their cat out."

"I didn't know they had a cat."

"The Evanses have had cats forever," he explained.

I had forgotten that this little fellow was around long before Temptation Parish was even a twinkle in the eye of the Diocese. I was anxious to hear more.

"So, you let the cat out. So what?"

"He fights."

"He does?"

"Yeah. He's a mean--you know, has one ear chewed down, looks like fur on toxic Brylcreem." 

"Wow." This was making me a little concerned. "In that case, he could really hurt somebody and it would be all your fault, you know."

The angel looked contrite. But only for a moment. He then looked at me, another mischievous grin on his face, an up-to-no-good sort of grin and said, "He's headed over to Vinny's."


"Really," the angel repeated.

I paused. I could feel a smile spreading over my whiskers, making them twitch. "Can I get you some tea?"

"Why, yes," the cherub replied. "That would be lovely."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Someone to Watch Over Me

One of the hazards of being a cat is when people don't look where they're going. They'll stumble all over you. It happens to me time and again and I could scream. Actually, I do scream..and hiss..and run when some dumb stoopmagoogle (one of Jack's quaint expressions) will kick me as he's walking or step on my tail or just get in my way.

From where I stand, people are skyscraper tall with two swinging legs. Some of their feet are really big and can hurt when they come down on a bulky furball like me. Want a cat's perspective? Lie down on the floor and look up at someone standing over you. It's scary.

When I get in someone's way it's because I had to get down the hall and they unexpectedly came shooting out of one of the side rooms. So you can picture the inside of the rectory: There's the parlor as you come in on the right, the conference room left, Jack and Will's parish office (small version) and the kitchen is at the far back. Geez, sometimes I just need to get to the litter box. I say a quick prayer to the patron saint of safe passage, but sometimes I forget.

The rectory can be a busy place at times as parishioners come in and out to do this and that. Every so often, a new person comes and Mary Lou, ever the gracious hostess, will invite them in for a cup of tea or coffee and muffins. Yes, going from point A to point B can be hazardous to your health, but never fear. A kitchen at the end of any journey is well worth it. 

Now for my Mea Culpa Question of the Week:

I know, I promised sins. They'll have to wait. I have a question right now that might involve a sin of some sort. I drank holy water when Jack poured it into my dish at church. He said it was fresher than what I had. I drank it, but was wondering about the consequences...

What happens when a cat drinks holy water? Do my innards get blessed? (Now there's a thought)

Bottoms up,